This month's picks include premieres, Little Princes and a principal dancer's farewell that's sure to leave you sobbing. Here are the shows our writers and editors around the country are most excited to catch.
Umi Akiyoshi Photography, Courtesy Sidra Bell Dance New York
Sebastian Abarbanell remembers being asked as an undergrad at Trinity Laban in London to perform wearing only a dance belt. "I said no," he says, "because I felt uncomfortable." Now a performer with Sidra Bell Dance New York, he's performed partially nude several times, without reservation. The difference? "It comes with more experience and maturing as a dancer," he says. "When you see a dancer living in their skin, you don't need to put anything else on them. When I said no in college, I wasn't in my skin yet."
Getting in your skin—and getting comfortable wearing only your skin onstage—requires a particular alchemy of vulnerability, agency, preparation and practice.
Choreographer Sidra Bell, Photo courtesy David Flores Productions
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.
There's something about Leal Zielińska that defies easy explanation. In stillness, she captivates, flirting with androgyny yet remaining unapologetically feminine, her gaze at once frank and mysterious. In motion, her fierce athleticism seems at odds with her almost-ungainly facility, contorting into positions that beggar believability and then staying there too long for comfort.
She doesn't shy away from awkwardness but instead leans into it. Somehow these paradoxes resolve into a magnetic performance quality that makes the Polish-born dancer impossible to look away from, as well as a perfect conduit for Sidra Bell's bizarre, audacious, sometimes voyeuristic work.